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Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

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Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by Shesherkobita on 2014-01-21, 16:45



Manju Kapur's fifth novel – following her highly acclaimed works such as Difficult Daughters (1998) and The Immigrant (2009) – explores the tumultous relationships once again set in the thriving, upper-middle-class colonies of Delhi in the mid-90s. The story thrives against the backdrop of the initial surge of foreign investment in India. The very first chapter of the book begins to enthrall a reader with the couple's love making scene. The only glitch is this: it is a married woman having a romantic adventure with her husband's boss. Cheesy as it may seem, the book sets itself apart by diving straight into the troubled waters yet without taking any sides, revealing once again the mark of a true family writer.

Extramarital affair breaks a solid marriage
Shagun, the green-eyed beautiful wife of Raman, falls in love with his charismatic, handsome boss Ashok Khanna, who has never been in love before and is determined to possess the woman he now loves. It does not matter to him how but he goes about conquering Shagun's mind, body and soul like a seasoned, persuasive marketer. He represents everything that a woman of today would find difficult to resist.

The pace of the story gains momentum as their affair begins to become more fiery, daring and passionate. Shagun has no regrets about lying to her husband or to her own mother. The extent of her selfishness and ability to be cruel is visible in the choices she makes. For example, she leaves her kids with her mother to go off for weekend trysts with her new found lover. Yet she convinces herself all the time that she is a devoted mother to  her children. In fact, she goes to all lengths to brainwash her children against their own father, knowing that this would be of use to her to negotiate her terms of divorce when it is finally time.

Although the book never tips into preaching morals, it’s precisely at such critical, emotion-packed moments that the story skirts closest to the society's traditional norms and conventions, The author Manju Kapur demonstrates her intrinsic level of detailing with tiny social observations such as how Shagun's mother does her best to coax her to remain faithful to her husband and in retaliation, Shagun threatens to completely stop confiding in her mother if this is how she is going to take sides.

Meanwhile, Raman, who is a sincere, hard working man and a thoroughly devoted husband, struggles to understand what is going wrong in his relationship with Shagun. He adores her but he is puzzled when nothing he says or does seems to please his beautiful wife. But finally when he discovers the truth, the devastation he experiences is just a tip of a massive legal iceberg.

Indian Law and Tangled Lives
Their lives are catapulted and crushed by the ever slow, grinding wheels of the rigid legal system in India. This is when the quiet, reliable cousin Nandan steps in to help Raman who is totally clueless about how the legal system works in India. Worst of all, he begins to realize that marriage to Shagun whom he had loved blindly had been a big mistake, one for which his children too would pay a heavy price. Who will get custody of the kids - that becomes the question for Raman and Shagun? Their legal battle turns inevitably ugly.

While the parents are embroiled in a legal battle for custody of the children, they do everything they can to make the children feel worse. Their son is a replica of Shagun - selfish, cruel and indifferent to anything but his own satisfaction and their daughter is a miniature of Raman, who is very loving, understanding and generous. The children find their own ways to tackle the crisis because they are confused and feel divided loyalties swarm around them, throwing them into tough, emotionally disturbing situations with their parents. And for any child, having to choose between parents is the toughest and most emotionally devastating thing to contend with.  

How In-laws in India treat a woman who cannot conceive
As a parallel story, the plot swerves to capture the troubles of Ishita, who is the daughter of Raman's mother's dear friend and neighbor. Reflecting the dismal marriage scenario that prevails in most middle class Indian families, Ishita's problems begin when she is unable to conceive. Her mother-in-law and sisters-in-law who doted on her and acted as though they were all dear friends changed overnight when they realize that Ishita is medically pronounced as unable to have children.

Without being judgmental or preachy, Manju Kapur conveys the typical middle class mentality of Indian families, particularly in tackling situations like this. The well-knit story reveals the layers of dirt that are hidden behind the 'happy family' syndrome among middle class families. An example: Ishita's mother-in-law holds detailed discussions with the doctor to dig deep into understanding the medical cause of this condition. Everyone's curiosity is satiated when the doctor clarifies that it is Ishita's fault and that this happened because she had contracted an illness in childhood that had damaged her system.

In Ishita's story, there is nothing shocking but what is clearly absent is her in laws lack of sympathy or understanding to the girl who could have been seen as their daughter instead of their daughter-in-law. And thus, Ishita's husband who had proclaimed never ending love to her becomes the obedient son to his parents. The coldness, the cruel indifference and finally the rejection of a wife solely because she cannot bear a child is portrayed in a heart rending way.

Perhaps the author conveys with these instances that even domestic pets are treated better than a daughter in law in some Indian families. A divorced, socially isolated Ishita finds the courage to volunteer and teach underprivileged children. She loves children and they love her back. Gradually, she finds hope and in the process, her own lost sense of individuality. But her parents, particularly her mother, is actively back in a match making mode. That is when her mother and Raman's mother decide to do everything they can to bring their divorced offspring to notice each other as suitable prospects for marriage.

'Custody' redefines the changing parenting scenario in middle class Indian homes
The novel’s portrayal of Ishita is refreshingly free of the cliches that are associated with the 'wicked stepmother' syndrome. Despite Manju Kapur's careful neutral tone, what stands out as stark reality is the loneliness and sheer emptiness that Raman, Shagun and Ishita undergo.

Do they represent an emerging group of young, successful, educated Indians who can choose the direction of their destiny so easily no matter what the underlying moral implications are like? Or is it reaching a point where expecting morality and fidelity in a marriage is like chasing an illusion?

Manju Kapur's 'Custody' demands a sensitive reading and it offers readers with many important aspects of understanding how marital life in India is fast disintegrating and being shaped by foreign elements such as extra marital affairs, materialistic pursuits, and so on. It also offers valuable insights into the vulnerability of children of broken marriages and new 'happily divorced and remarried' statuses of Indian couples.

This is not merely a story. It is a battlefield of sorts that tears your heart and soul apart because of it's masterful narrative and honesty. Read it but be ready to cry.

*** review by Swapna Raghu Sanand.

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by anurao66 on 2014-01-21, 17:07

Sabi,

Thanks a lot for sharing this. The Children are so cute. So a son does exist. I wonder when he will be introduced. They have changed the story a bit making Ishita unmarried.

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by Shesherkobita on 2014-01-21, 17:19

anurao66 wrote:Sabi,

Thanks a lot for sharing this. The Children are so cute. So a son does exist. I wonder when he will be introduced. They have changed the story a bit making Ishita unmarried.


Hi anu... I forgot what they showed about Ishita... I think they showed she was engaged but it broke because she will not be able to have a baby...  Rolling Eyes I think it makes more sense the way the story is written... That she was happily married till they found out that she cannot have a baby... Some infection in tubes ( PID maybe) ... Lots of PID patients end up having babies later... So I wouldn't be surprised if Raman and Ishita end up with a baby of their own later ( it's a soap after all)  :) 

I love the concepts the writer is dealing with in one story.
I know a infertile couple where the girl took the blame of infertility even though the problem was with the husband ... The husband looked Mahan cause he didnt divorce the wife.... Our society is really twisted about these things... Sigh...

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by candy on 2014-01-21, 17:19

Thanks for sharing sabi. I had no clue about this novel and i finally got it here. Looks like its a must read novel, and hope they stick to this novel and leave a meaningful impact after the show.

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by Shesherkobita on 2014-01-21, 17:22

candy wrote:Thanks for sharing sabi. I had no clue about this novel and i finally got it here. Looks like its a must read novel, and hope they stick to this novel  and leave a meaningful impact after the show.

I doubt they will completely stick to it Candy... They will turn it into "hate to love" lstory... IPK created a monster called "hate to love" and we re stuck with that formulae.  :P :sunny: 

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by candy on 2014-01-21, 17:23

Really sabi,our society is always partial in these things..

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by candy on 2014-01-21, 17:26

Yeah Sabi..

hug1

Formula that always beat inside heart and turns on the switch in our brains often.

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by anusha.cochin on 2014-01-21, 17:26

Thanks Sabi


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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by Shesherkobita on 2014-01-21, 17:52

anusha.cochin wrote:Thanks Sabi


Hay Anu... What was Ishita saying in Tamil when her car got stuck on the ram? It sounded too cute... Loved the father daughter scene... Surprisingly the dad has no accent.

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by Shesherkobita on 2014-01-21, 18:01

candy wrote:Really sabi,our society is always partial in these things..

 :||^v: 

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by anurao66 on 2014-01-21, 18:46

Shesherkobita wrote:
anurao66 wrote:Sabi,

Thanks a lot for sharing this. The Children are so cute. So a son does exist. I wonder when he will be introduced. They have changed the story a bit making Ishita unmarried.


Hi anu... I forgot what they showed about Ishita... I think they showed she was engaged but it broke because she will not be able to have a baby...  Rolling Eyes I think it makes more sense the way the story is written... That she was happily married till they found out that she cannot have a baby... Some infection in tubes ( PID maybe) ... Lots of PID patients end up having babies later... So I wouldn't be surprised if Raman and Ishita end up with a baby of their own later ( it's a soap after all)  :) 

I love the concepts the writer is dealing with in one story.
I know a infertile couple where the girl took the blame of infertility even though the problem was with the husband ... The husband looked Mahan cause he didnt divorce the wife.... Our society is really twisted about these things... Sigh...
Sabi,

She tells what does he think of about himself in Tamil. The accent was bad which is surprising for she as an actress knows Tamil and teaches some lines to her co stars as per one interview.

Actually Sabi she was engaged but she found out she cant conceive due to Stomach TB (Sunanda Pushkar case brought ishta's case in mind). In south thet are very conservative and very particular about all these things. 

Sabi there are many instances where the woman takes the blame so that her husband wont be humiliated which I find is very stupid. But that is society for you.

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by slmu on 2014-01-21, 19:03

Thanks Sabi.. this is interesting. I read another review (link provided by Manasvi) where the reviewer found Ishita rather selfish when it came to Ruhi because she tries to distance her from Shagun. Also, the son becomes totally alienated from Raman. That reviewer was not too impressed.

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by anusha.cochin on 2014-01-21, 19:45

Shesherkobita wrote:
anusha.cochin wrote:Thanks Sabi


Hay Anu... What was Ishita saying in Tamil when her car got stuck on the ram? It sounded too cute... Loved the father daughter scene... Surprisingly the dad has no accent.

she said 'ayyo' I thnk...dint hear it properly

ayyo' dont have a specific meaning...just represent a feeling of fear ,uneasiness

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by anusha.cochin on 2014-01-21, 19:46

Shesherkobita wrote:
anusha.cochin wrote:Thanks Sabi


Hay Anu... What was Ishita saying in Tamil when her car got stuck on the ram? It sounded too cute... Loved the father daughter scene... Surprisingly the dad has no accent.

Btwn Sabi..I m not Tamil  :) Can understand but ..Tamil s very close to my mother tongue 'Malayalam"

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by Shesherkobita on 2014-01-21, 20:16

slmu wrote:Thanks Sabi.. this is interesting. I read another review (link provided by Manasvi) where the reviewer found Ishita rather selfish when it came to Ruhi because she tries to distance her from Shagun. Also, the son becomes totally alienated from Raman. That reviewer was not too impressed.

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Ok, I read it... Seems like the reviewer is correct ... Ishita is already
too clingy with Ruhi... God knows how much more clingy she will become once she is married to Raman. She is giving me insecurity complex as I am not that clingy with my DD.  :P but at the same time it rings true... She is that kind of a character ( and they exist in real life) ... Adoptee mothers have a lot of psychological issues to deal with too ( especially their own as they try twice as hard to prove their love)

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by slmu on 2014-01-21, 20:19

Shesherkobita wrote:
slmu wrote:Thanks Sabi.. this is interesting. I read another review (link provided by Manasvi) where the reviewer found Ishita rather selfish when it came to Ruhi because she tries to distance her from Shagun. Also, the son becomes totally alienated from Raman. That reviewer was not too impressed.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Ok, I read it... Seems like the reviewer is correct ... Ishita is already
too clingy with Ruhi... God knows how much more clingy she will become once she is married to Raman. She is giving me insecurity complex as I am not that clingy with my DD.  :P but at the same time it rings true... She is that kind of a character ( and they exist in real life) ... Adoptee mothers have a lot of psychological issues to deal with too ( especially their own as they try twice as hard to prove their love)

Agreed Ishita is already clingy.. and seems to think no one can look after Ruhi like herself. Its rather weird but I haven't come across a single adoptee mother considering I have lived in 4 different countries.

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by 001 on 2014-01-22, 02:35

Society is weird as everything is always the ladies fault never the husbands. Take wife beating for example people would say oh the wife probably did summat bad even though she could be entirely innocent. And a woman who's divorced is looked down on whereas a man is fit to marry as many times as he wants.
We need to change this type of thinking.

Back to the topic, i think this book is good nd they should stick to it.

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by SAYAN18 on 2014-01-22, 03:42

Thanks Sab for the reviews as well as summary.
Some days, when I return home early, watch YHM ( repeat ), just before EBP.
Though I read many novels, but rarely family novels. After Saratchandra, I rarely find them telling new things about Indian females.
But this one is on the backdrop of open market and about the upper middleclass society.
My experience is - the situation is entirely different in lower middleclass society .
My three relatives, two female and one male are childless. They can't afford the luxury of divorce and remarriage. One female has adopted her sisters son and that son is an engineer and working. All of them are married for 25 years or more.
The values and considerations are very different in affluent society from their counterpart .
Till now, the story as well as the show is good.
P. S. - These two females can't conceive because of problem in their uterus.

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by sarra0 on 2014-01-22, 06:27

Thanks sabi for the review, I had read another review before which made ishita out as the clingy step mother to ruhi who poisons her against shagun, and is horrible to ramans son, the one in boarding school...Which differs to wat the character had been shown as in the serial...Until someone explained that the son was not a nice person... This review sounds more even...

An interesting start in the book and it starts before the marriage break up...ashok actually loves shagun in the book, not a vibe u get in the show...And the mothers get on in the book, she was married before she found out she couldnt conceive...The changes they make for entertainment does not necessarily result in us being entertained....

Interesting look at Society, cultural mentality, which in the show could largely b bypassed...Until females change will there b a change...

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by Abavi on 2014-01-22, 08:34

Sabi, Thanks for sharing this review. It is well written and gives us a honest outlook into the novel, discusses the issues handled in the story without giving out the plot itself

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Re: Review of "Custody" by Sanand (the book YHM is based on)

Post by Shesherkobita on 2014-01-26, 21:16

Abavi wrote:Sabi, Thanks for sharing this review. It is well written and gives us a honest outlook into the novel, discusses the issues handled in the story without giving out the plot itself
Thanks Vi... Reviews of course vary... But Ekta is super smart .... She took the story from a different angle... Between Ruhi and Ishita leading to ta DA ... Hate marriage ( maybe a 6 month contract ) between leads! IPK has created a monster on hate marriages and we can't have enough  :lol!:

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